Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Entering the Age of Manipulation (Er...Innocence)

So today marks Cade's fourth birthday, which I can hardly believe. I started getting teary eyed last night, when Aaron remarked as Cade was going to bed, "Good night, three year old! When you wake up tomorrow, you'll be four!"

In preparation for turning four, Cade has experienced an explosion of skills in recent weeks, including becoming quite the conversationalist, learning how to dress himself (for the most part), and really trying to serve as a positive and helpful example for his potty training brother. Unfortunately, his bargaining and manipulation skills are developing quite quickly as well. A few cases in point:

In an effort to get the boys to help around the house with small chores we have developed a new chore and consequence system. If I ask the boys to say, pick up a toy as their chore, they must do that chore by the count of three (REAL count of three, not ongoing count of three) or lose a privilege. In order to earn that privilege back, they have to do THREE chores to make up for not doing the chore in the first place. A few days ago, Cade protested taking cars up to the playroom from the living room. He lost his privilege for TV the next day (it was already nighttime) and told me he wanted to take the three chores to earn it back. So I told him the first chore was to pick up his freaking cars and take them to the playroom! He was furious that his plan hadn't worked and told me he meant he wanted three DIFFERENT chores. Sorry, buddy - no dice.

To curb goofing off and getting out of bed at bedtime, we instituted a three consequence system for bedtime as well. Not to be outsmarted, the other night Cade sent Drew as his emissary to let us know that "Cade needs something." When we got upstairs, it turned out that Cade had simply "forgotten" which cup of water next to the bed was his and which was Drew's. Unwilling to risk punishment for getting out of bed, he sent Drew the Sacrificial Lamb on a parental-finding/bedtime stalling mission.

Cade's manipulation has gotten progressively more brazen and this morning, in celebration of his birthday, he kicked it into high gear. We popped into the drugstore to pick up a few items. His usual maneuver is to follow me around asking for assorted items, to which my response is always, "Not today." or "Put it on your birthday/Christmas list". Today's coveted item: a Sponge Bob Square Pants disposable camera, which he handed to me and said, "Can I get this mommy? I really, really want it!". Watching me draw a breath and prepare to refuse him, he sweetly said, "It's on my list because today is my birthday!". Leaving me little option but to cave - after all, you only turn four once.

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